tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 9, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
he appreciated every single one of them. >> happy birthday. on this saturday night, long term mission, the president refuses to put a time limit on renewed u.s. military strikes on iraq as new video of the attacks is released tonight. we are on the ground in iraq where the situation for thousands grows desperate. deadly outbreak. the two american ebola victims improve, the desperation grows overseas, prompting new tensions and new measures to control the spread of ebola. rolling the dice. all bets are off as an iconic american gambling city struggles to remain afloat. tonight, the game changer that put tens of thousands of jobs at risk. and alligator attack. a little boy is forced to go one-on-one with a 500-pound beast and comes out on top. tonight, he tells the tale.
>> it really amazed me what happened. announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. as american warplanes once again came to the aid of iraqi refugees under siege from advancing isis fighters, president obama made it clear that the latest round of u.s. military involvement in iraq will not be a short one. u.s. transports air dropped more food and water to members of a religious minority trapped in the northern part of the country. overnight, we get a look at the american air strikes against isis targets. before leaving on vacation, president obama told reporters the isis advance on erbil where a number of personnel remain has been swifter than expected. the operation could go on for weeks. tonight, the report from on the
ground in northern iraq. first to pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski. good evening. >> good evening, lester. the latest u.s. air strikes were launched after rebels fired on the religious refugees in northern iraq. thousands of refugees remain trapped on top of the mountains. u.s. officials tell nbc news american warplanes and a drone launched four air strikes against rebel forces in the sinjar mountains, taking out three armored personnel carriers and a truck mounted gun. after the rebels fired on the ja sid di- refugees. earlier today, the president made it clear the u.s. would not stand by and let that happen. >> the american aircraft are positioned to strike isil terrorists around the mountains to help forces in iraq break the siege and rescue those who are trapped there. >> reporter: this, after american warplanes and a drone took out three isis targets yesterday outside of erbil.
clearly shaken by those air strikes, the rebels were seen removing their trademark isis black flags from their vehicles, which made them easy targets. >> so far, the strikes have successfully destroyed arms they could have used against erbil. >> reporter: it appears to be a glancing blow. to demonstrate the fight is far from over, isis released video today from mosul, showing off military equipment seized from the iraqis and planting their flag on their biggest prize yet, the mosul dam, krit critical to iraq's entire infrastructure. at the same time, three u.s. military cargo planes made the secondary drop of tons of food and thousands of gallons of water to yazidi refugees. surrounded by isis fighters, many are dying of thirst and starvation. for the first time, president obama talked about creating a safe corridor to provide the refugees an escape route off the
mountain. a complex and dangerous operation, which would require military boots on the ground. >> fundamentally, this is not going to change the tide in iraq. it will take much more on the part of iraqis and likely the u.s. to do that and push isis back. >> reporter: whatever the strategy, the president stressed the iraqis must take the lead. >> we can help, we can advise, but we can't do it for them. >> reporter: it's clear president obama has carved out a major role for the u.s. and its military in the way forward. lester? >> jim miklaszewski, thanks. tonight, we are on the ground in iraq. we are learning more about the stranded members of the religious minorities. horrific stories are emerging. we'll get more from keir simmons in erbil. >> reporter: desperation on a mountain refuge. people grasp for aid from a kurdish helicopter as it takes off from mount sinjar. one boy clings on.
20 made it on board. thousands cut off by isis. people from a christian community, president obama said place genocide. elsewhere, families are fleeing anywhere they can in temperatures over 110, one child only five days old, we want america to do more, they told us. [ speaking foreign language ] the president's promise, no boots on the ground is not what they want here. [ speaking foreign language ] >> reporter: inside a church, we found 4,000 more refugees from the ancient city. crowds of families here, people just carrying their children. young and old, while children play, parents struggle to hold it together. she holds her 10-month-old daughter. they arrived today without her husband.
isis told her to wear an islamic shawl or be killed. they wanted you to convert. north of here, back on mount sinjar, there's no end in site. the u.s. dropping water and food may help save some from starvation. a lifeline in the face of isis cruelty. they kidnapped our girls. they killed many people, this woman says. why some die, he was just 2 years old. american bombs may stop isis from advancing, but they want to return home, safely. for now, many of those refugees are here in erbil. at one point, isis fighters were within miles of the city. that could have put the u.s. consulate in danger. lester? >> thank you. he talked about iraq, president obama acknowledged that american intelligence underestimated the advance of isis militants.
kris jansing is traveling with the president on martha's vineyard. kris, is the administration playing catch up here? >> reporter: well, they would argue they are not. they did acknowledge this advance happened much more quickly than they expected. in addition, they acknowledge that the administration and the intelligence underestimated the ability of iraqi security forces to hold off isis as they got closer and closer to some of these key areas in erbil. the president used tough language along with secretary of state john kerry for the situation on the ground, calling it genocide, the act barbaric. he is, of course, the fourth president to take military action in iraq. you can see a palpable reluctance on his part including criticism from john mccain, the senator from arizona. he said it was too narrow, but he reiterated, once again, there will be no more boots on the ground. he's getting regular updates from staff here on martha's vineyard. >> thank you.
more on this story tomorrow on "meet the press" with david gregory. the death toll continues to mount in the middle east one day after a temporary truce between israel and gaza fell through. gaza militants fired 28 rockets at israel whose own rockets struck 50 targets in gaza. bill neely has the report from gaza. >> reporter: the sound of war echoing across gaza, again. israeli warplanes striking dozens of targets. seven palestinians killed today. three of them buried in the rubble of one of seven mosques hit. israeli missiles struck this building twice a short time ago. in the two days of exchanging fire again, the pace, the intensity of the attack by both israel and hamas has dropped. militants fired more rockets into israel today. there, the return of war, the sirens and the terror is wearing people down.
>> nobody wins in a war. everybody is getting hurt and getting damage. it's a lose/lose situation. >> reporter: those who are losing most are gaza's children. this child is 7. she's paralyzed from the neck down after shrapnel from an israeli missile hit her. it still hurts, she says. some of my family are alive and some are dead. as we filmed, missiles exploded outside. in the next room, two little boys and their cousin from a family where 12 died in an air strike six days ago. the same tragedy, he says, keeps repeating itself again and again. we are afraid all the time. outside a mosque hit by warplanes today, they pray. hamas leaders are urged to stop firing rockets so peace talks can resume. there's hope of another cease-fire. and there's fear of more
missiles from the night sky. bill neely, nbc news, gaza. we turn to yet another trouble spot. ukraine, where a leader of the pro-russian rebels claim the rebels are ready to agree to a cease-fire to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. as heavy fighting continues, there are troubling reports about photographs taken by ukrainian journalists that show pieces of wreckage from that downed malaysian jet liner used as part of a rebel roadblock. the reports have not been confirmed. 298 people were on board flight 17 when it was shot down the ukraine/russia border last month. many people in hawaii are breathing a sigh of relief as tropical storm iselle swept throw without widespread damage. the islands are keeping a close eye on hurricane julio, which is not far behind. jacob rascone has more on it. >> reporter: the community of
punta deals with the worst damage. this volunteer firefighter was out helping neighbors when he realized his own family was in danger. >> responding to calls leaving your family home. it's the hardest thing ever. >> reporter: his fiance and 3-year-old daughter took shelter in the laundry room until he got home. they got out before two trees came crashing down on to the roof. the next day, the neighborhood united here. >> one, two, three, go. >> reporter: what motivates you to come out and help? >> we have to help our neighbors, that's all. taking care of one another. >> reporter: across the state, clean-up efforts on a smaller scale. most of hawaii suffered minimal damage. more than a foot of rain and wind gusts up to 66 miles per hour pummeled the big island. hundreds of trees and power poles blocked major roadways. other debris fell on cars and
homes. the state's worst storm in two decades now behind them. people in this community now preparing for months of rebuilding. with all the damage, no reports of any serious injury or death from this storm. meanwhile, hurricane julio is forecasted to pass hawaii to the north with no impact here beyond a high surf. lester? >> jacob, thanks. the largest ebola outbreak in history is growing more desperate tonight overseas. here at home, encouraging signs for the two americans fighting the virus. gabe gutierrez has the latest. >> reporter: today, a show of support for the two americans who risked everything to serve. [ inaudible ] >> reporter: dr. kent brantly and nancy writebol are said to be improving. >> she's doing well. unfortunately, she has a long way to go. >> reporter: her son brian spoke
with a christian radio show. >> at this point, really, the doctors are just trying to care for her and keep her as comfortable as possible. >> every day they survive is the best sign possible. >> reporter: this is the former director of the cdc and dealt with an out break in uganda. >> the uganda outbreak and others before it were controlled in a matter of weeks. this is clearly going to take months. >> reporter: ebola spread to four african countries killing at least 961 people. in nigeria, travelers are being screened at airports. >> what we need is for those infected to make themselves available quickly. >> reporter: a catholic humanitarian group says ebola took the life of a nun working in nigeria. we spoke with a woman who was friends with patrick sawyer, the man who died from ebola last month. >> shocking, unbelievable to see
a young man, very vibrant young man with a lot of promise for life to lose his life like that. that was terrible. >> reporter: a country's message echoed by liberian americans more than 5,000 miles away. >> we are helpless. that's why we are crying out to everybody. >> reporter: today, guinea closed their borders trying to contain the outbreak. liberia rushed to claim protesters and blame the government for not collecting the bodies of ebola patients. lester? when we continue on this saturday, we'll tell you what's in the cards for a struggling atlantic city as the future of gambling chances course. plus, an alligator bite as little boy and he wins in more ways than one.
we are back with a changing fortune of what was a gambling mecca with several casinos slated to close, are the odds stacked against atlantic city? harry smith has our report tonight. >> reporter: strolling down atlantic city's board walk, on a summer's day, tourists stop for salt water taffy. nearby, kids play in the surf. donald johnson knows there's something wrong. he works 16 hours a day on the board walk and has done so for seven years. >> there are fewer terrorists here for obvious reasons. casinos popping up all over the country. >> reporter: three of the city's dozen casinos will be closed by this fall. a fourth is in trouble and
looking for a buyer. at stake, 8,000 jobs. in office six months, the city rode its bet on gambling too long. how hard of a hit is your town taking right now? >> a very hard hit. this is a town where all our eggs were in one basket. >> reporter: gambling was legalized in atlantic city in 1976. it was supposed to be the anecdote to decades of decline. just like the good old days, lured by cool sea breezes and the novelties of the board walk, atlantic city reached the peak of popularity, during prohibition, an era of decadence captured in hbos board walk empire. >> take it easy. >> reporter: all that was a distant memory by the time the casino's arrived. as the gleaming towers rose, some neighborhoods struggle. there are a lot of streets it
gambling gold didn't reach. once again, people here like this club owner worry. >> every day, you are nervous. you worry about a lack of employment that you read about. you worry about the casinos being closed and how it's going to negatively affect your business or if you are next. >> reporter: the mayor says his town is reinventing itself as it has in the past. it won't be easy, it never has been. you can almost hear springsteen as you drive down the street. ♪ harry smith, nbc news, atlantic city. coming up, a young boy describes what it was like when he was attacked by an alligator.
you are watching army staff sergeant travis mills sky dive today with the first lady of maine. the quadruple amputee raised money for a veteran's center. she couldn't turn the veteran of the war in afghanistan down even though she is petrified of heights. we want you to meet a remarkable boy that survived an alligator attack. a horrifying experience for anyone, let alone a 9-year-old. he recounts the story with a sense of poise far beyond his years. kristen dahlgren has more. >> reporter: he was still recovering from surgery when he calmly recalled how it all began. >> i thought someone was playing with me. i didn't know what happened. >> reporter: the 9-year-old was cooling off at a popular lake in a park when he felt something clamp on his leg. >> i reached down to grab it and
i felt its jaw and teeth. >> reporter: the teeth of a nine foot, 500 hundred pound alligator. >> i immediately reacted and hit it a couple times. it let go a little. finally, i had enough strength left to pry its jaw open a little. >> reporter: that's when he screamed for help. his friends spotted him and called 911. >> he was crawling up the shore screaming and crying. he had bites all over his back. >> reporter: doctors treated him for 30 teeth marks, including one with a tooth that was still there and scratch marks from the gators claws. >> we see lots and lots of kids that are injured. he's one of the bravest and most polite kids we have met. >> reporter: he's not the only one with a close encounter with an alligator this week. a tampa woman was attacked while out on a canoe with friends. >> all of a sudden, she screamed and i saw an alligator was half way on the boat.
it grabbed her leg. >> reporter: amanda reese is in stable condition. james is expected to make a full recovery while choppers continue to search for the gator that attacked him. holding tight to his father's hand, he was asked if he would return to the lake. he had one answer. >> negative. >> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york. up next on nbc "nightly news," a milestone for smokey bear as timeless message gets a makeover. coming up.
finally tonight, a happy 70th birthday to an american icon. smokey bear. his message of wildfire prevention is timeless, its delivery changed through time. halle jackson has more. ♪ smokey the bear >> reporter: smokey the bear's image has evolved over the years, spanning generations. through it all, his message remained the same. ♪ everybody knows he's the fire prevention bear ♪ >> reporter: he's adapting his message to a new medium online from smokey selfies to popularity and bear hug hashtags. smokey seems more approachable. >> as he went from print and radio to television, he's now moving online. he has to be where the audience is. >> reporter: it all began in 1944. >> hello there folks, this is smokey.
>> he's named after firefighter smokey joe martin hurt in a 1922 fire rescue. there was an actual smokey bear. in 1950, a bear survived a wildfire by climbing a tree, becoming the smokey mascot. over the years with more and more wildfires, the campaign widened the focus. almost all of us know that slogan and this face, right smokey? the ad council says 96% of americans recognize smokey the bear. because most wildfires are started by people, like the one at this forest, they are not letting up on the crucial campaign. western states are dealing with the worst wildfire season in decades. lightning and severe drought sometimes contribute, statistics show humans are to blame for nine out of ten wildfires. the forest service is raising awareness by throwing smokey a birthday party. >> surprise! >> reporter: be sure to skip the candles. halle jackson, nbc news, los angeles.
tsunami separated the two. the amazing and emotional reunion that you just have to see. good evening to you. i'm peggy bunker. >> and i'm terry mcsweeney. danger on the front lines. three south bay firefighters hurt while battling a large fire in mendocino county. the lodge fire has burned more than 5,000 acres and residented are being warned they may need to evacuate. marianne favro joins us live from santa clara county fire headquarters in los gatos with more on how they were hurt. >> reporter: i just spoke with a battalion chief who tells me the three firefighters who were burned were just about to learn their first assignment when suddenly the fire unexpectedly shifted. the three were part of a team that left the south bay last saturday. after a few days, they were reassign t